The No. 2-ranked Crimson Tide looked like the No. 1 team on Saturday in the Georgia Dome.
Alabama never did break Florida’s will, but the Crimson Tide did break the Gators back in the SEC championship game. Alabama dominated Florida in every statistical category as the Crimson Tide rolled past the Gators, 29-14 in Atlanta. But by no means was this an easy football game for Alabama.
The Crimson Tide trailed Florida 7-2 in the second quarter after an 85-yard punt return for a touchdown from Gator freshman Antonio Callaway. Alabama did rally for a 12-7 halftime lead. The Crimson Tide took a 7-5 lead on an Adam Griffith 28-yard field goal at the 6:32 mark of the second period. The Crimson Tide also tacked on a Derrick Henry 2-yard touchdown run before halftime.
The Crimson Tide had the momentum, and they would take firm control of the game in the third period. Griffith, the native of Calhoun, Ga., gave the Crimson Tide some more breathing room with a 30-yard field goal. Alabama senior quarterback Jake Coker would then dial up a 32-yard touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver ArDarius Stewart.
Alabama rolled to a 22-7 third quarter lead. The Crimson Tide would also get a 9-yard touchdown pass from Coker to senior split end Richard Mullaney in the fourth period. Florida would score one more time, too, but it wasn’t enough even with a 46-yard touchdown pass from Treon Harris to backup Gator wide receiver C.J. Worton in the fourth quarter.
The Crimson Tide won the 25th SEC football championship in Alabama football history. Florida put up a good fight, but the Gators just couldn’t hold up for four quarters. Florida starting tailback Kelvin Taylor was held to eight yards on seven carries. Taylor scored 13 touchdowns this year, but none against Alabama.
Henry, the Alabama junior, hammered away for 189 yards on 44 carries. Most of those yards came from the middle of the third period to the end of the game. Florida never quit, though it did get tired. The Florida defense played some championship caliber football with Caleb Brantley, Jonathan Bullard, Jarrad Davis and Bryan Cox, Jr.
Alabama would not get the anticipated blowout victory, but the Crimson Tide would prove who was the best team in the second half of this brutal game. The Crimson Tide made their SEC championship official as they sacked Harris five times. Harris completed only nine passes for the Gators.
Coker had an 18-for-26 game for 204 yards for the Crimson Tide. Freshman wide receiver Calvin Ridley had a big game for the Crimson Tide, too. Ridley beat Florida repeatedly with eight catches for 102 yards.
The next game for Alabama (12-1) is slated for December 31 against Michigan State (12-1) in the national semifinals in the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. That Thursday night game will kick off at 8 o’clock. Florida’s next football game is set for January 1 against the Michigan Wolverines (9-3) in the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Fla. That Big 10-SEC matchup will get underway at 1 p.m.
Florida will take a 10-3 record into that game.